Mon, 23 May 2022
Born and raised in North Kingstown, Kevin got his feet wet in hospitality early on. Starting as a cabana boy at Bonnet Shores Beach Club at just 15, he then worked at a variety of mom and pop spots throughout high school, gaining experience from dishwasher to pizza cook. It wasn’t until he graduated, however, that he truly stepped into the restaurant industry. Under the mentorship of Chef Walter Slater at Junction Pizzeria in Wickford, Kevin truly fell in love with cooking and the undeniable adrenaline of the kitchen.
While there, Kevin was inspired to enroll in Johnson & Wales’ Continuing Education program which afforded him the chance to intern in Italy – an exciting opportunity to connect with his heritage and explore its cuisine. After four months, he returned home where he met his next mentor – and now-collaborator/Giusto General Manager – Aaron Edwards, and joined him at his new restaurant, Trattoria del Corso, as Chef de Cuisine. Here, Kevin’s love for Italian food blossomed, but after a year was pulled back to Italy.
For two and a half years, Kevin fully immersed himself in Italian culture and cuisine under Chef Lorenzo Polegri at Ristorante Zeppelin in Orvieto. It’s here that he first experienced the creativity of freestyle, non-traditional Italian cooking, and Kevin credits this time and Polegri’s tutelage with inspiring him to think outside the box while inside the kitchen.
Back in the States, Kevin cooked at the famed Castle Hill Inn in Newport and then the Michelin-starred Del Posto in New York City. Opportunity again came knocking, and he headed back across the pond, this time to Paris. As Executive Chef, Kevin opened L’Office, a tiny bistro that garnered rave reviews and recognition both locally and internationally for its melding of French and Italian cuisine.
In 2012, Kevin joined forces with the owners of The Salty Pig in Boston and developed its pasta program. Three years later, the team collaborated on a brand new restaurant concept, and in June 2016 opened SRV with co-chef Michael Lombardi. The Venetian-style Bacaro and wine bar was an immediate success, earning a 4-star review from Boston magazine, James Beard Award nomination, and continued critical acclaim since.
Now, Kevin returns home with his high school sweetheart, Sarah, and young son to open his first independent restaurant concept in Newport. Giusto is a labor of love where familiar flavors come together in creative ways for a fun dining experience.
Check out episode 269 with Kevin O'Donnell as mentioned in today's episode.
Check out episode 861 with David Helbraun as mentioned in today's episode.
Today’s feature affiliate: Bentobox. In need of a restaurant website? Click this link to find out why so many of my guests use Bentobox!
Calls to ACTION!!!
Favorite success quote or mantra:
In this episode with Kevin O'Donnell we will discuss:
This episode is brought to you by Plate IQ, your Accounts Payable Automation and Expense Management solution. PateIQ works with 20,000 restaurants across the country. Plate IQ uses OCR "Optical Character Recognition" and Deep Machine Learning to eliminate manual data entry from the AP process. Automate the full life cycle of your invoices from General Ledger coding to bill payment via PlateIQ’s VendorPay network. With PlateIQ’s VendorPay you can seamless flow from invoice upload to paying your bills. You can earn cashback on invoices from over 180,000 vendors. With Plate IQ Vender Pay, you can see what is due when. Schedule payment by check/ACH/or Plate IQ Card. Lastly, VendorPay is also FOR Vendors. Keeping your vendors happy will give you leverage in negotiating your terms. Vendors participating in Plate IQ’s VendorPay network LOVE it because it shortens Day Sales Outstanding by 25% - AKA: Vendors get paid 25% faster. To learn more head to plateIQ.com/unstoppable to get at least 25% off implementation.
Fluctuating food prices. Staffing challenges- Now more than ever you need to control costs to remain profitable. MarginEdge is a restaurant management software that lets you see your food and labor costs in real time. By automating your invoice processing and totally digitizing your back office, MarginEdge saves your team hours on paperwork and gives you instant insights to manage your prime costs. Try MarginEdge free for 30 days. No contract. No setup fee. Learn more at marginedge.com/unstoppable
Over 20,000 restaurants trust ChowNow (chownow.com/unstoppable) for their online ordering. With ChowNow, you'll take control of your online presence, connect with more local diners, and keep your hard-earned profits. Join the free ChowNow Marketplace to reach new customers without commissions. Want to go big? Put your restaurant in the spotlight with ChowNow Direct—a full suite of branded ordering and marketing tools, including your own app! For a limited time, Restaurant Unstoppable listeners save 30% on a ChowNow Direct annual plan.
Thanks for listening!
Thanks so much for joining today! Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!
If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of the post.
Also, please leave an honest review for the Restaurant Unstoppable Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and I read each and every one of them.
And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates.
Huge thanks to Kevin O'Donnell for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!